On This [Heretical] Rock, I Will Build My Church?

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“Denial of Peter” – by Carl Heinrich Bloch

Without a doubt, the current state of affairs in Catholicism, and the Papacy in particular, has struck one of the greatest challenges for her apologists. Many people are driven to  think there is a massive problem with the coherence of Catholic ecclesiology with regard to the Papacy. The problem can be illustrated by citing one of the Catholic Church’s most astute contemporary theologians today. Continue reading

St. Maximos the Confessor (580-662) – Papal Supremacy and Infallibility by Divine Right

I have edited this article extensively to interact with Orthodox Byzantine historian A. Ed Siecienski.

Erick Ybarra - Credo Ut Intelligam

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As many readers know, the Monothelite controversy occupied the Church’s attention in the 7th century, and it was concluded by a firm condemnation of the belief that in Christ there is only one single will or that his acts were from one theanadric operation. This evil which inflicted the Church was partly attributable to Pope Honorius I, who’s letters to Sergius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, seemed to have supported the idea that Christ had two natures but one will.  Shortly after the reception of these letters, the Eastern Emperor, Heraclius, upon the composition of the Patriarch, released an edict called the Ecthesis ( εκθεσις , literally “statement of faith”), wherein Christ is taught to have one will. This was also accepted by the Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch , and Jerusalem. It is reported that the successor of Honorius, Severinus, had time before his death to reject it. The successor of Severinus…

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Pope Francis under the test of Bishop Gasser’s Relatio

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Below, I’ve typed out a few excerpts from the relatio of Bishop Gasser at the Vatican Council (1870). I am running through the thought experiment of whether Pope Francis’s magisterial teachings pass the canon of the relatio, particularly the portions which I’ve reproduced. At the forefront we have (1) Amoris Laetitia and (2) the Death Penalty revision (CCC 2267). I know there have been many who have made it clear that the Pope was not speaking with the supreme authority of St. Peter, and thus not ex-cathedra infallible. However, something which Gasser pointed out is often missing in today’s thinking. Notice how Gasser says that the “dogmatic judgments” of the Roman Pontiff are infallible, and then follows it with saying that there have been “thousands and thousands” of these “dogmatic judgments”. That would certainly be contrasted with many Catholic theologians today who insist on there only being 2 instances of Papal Infallibility, one on the Immaculate Conception in Ineffabilis Deus (1854), and the other on her assumption into heaven in Munificentissimus Deus (1950). Notice that Gasser gave his relatio in 1870, so that means that those theologians who say that there have only been two instances of Papal infallibility would have to conclude that Gasser’s saying that there have been “thousands and thousands” infallible dogmatic judgments should have really just said one-time. This is truly interesting, since this relatio was central to the discussions on the meaning of papal infallibility at the Council. The relatio was made to the general congregation of Bishops. In fact, Dom Cuthbert Butler, whose two-volume work on the Council is the most complete history written in English, said that Bishop Gasser was “the most prominent theologian of the Council”. This relatio has been a source of authoritative reference in theological treatments and manuals down unto the present day. In particular, the 2nd Vatican Council’s document Lumen Gentium, which includes a treatment on the hierarchical organization and authority of the Church, cites Gasser’s rlation four times in the chapter on the Magiterium. This chapter only had 24 lines of text and the references to the relatio make up half of all of them. Needless to say, this relatio is the best guide to properly interpret the treatment on the infallibility of the Pope in Pastor Aeternus. And yet, we hardly get the idea that there had only been 1 single exercise of Papal infallibility. Quite to the contrary, the relatio asserts there had been thousands. The consequence of this is that the more and more narrow modern theologians have become in explaining the conditions of Papal infallibility, the more and more they steer away from the historical understanding as it was had by the Bishops at Vatican I. You hear this when people say that the Pope is only infallible when he speaks in such highly decorative manners with all the right words and actions and warnings, etc,etc. While this is appreciable, I think it is absurd to think that the infallibility of the Pope, ordained to be the help and sustainer of unity in the Church catholic, had only been exercised once in nearly 1800 years after the birth of the Church. In fact, it is absurd. Continue reading

St. John Maron (628-707): First Syriac-Maronite Patriarch on the Roman Primacy

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“Let the Patriarch diligently search into everything which the Metropolitans or the Bishops, who are under his authority, are doing in the place of their jurisdiction; and, finding any inconvenient thing, let him alter it, and order in its stead what he thinks better. For he is the Father of them all, and they are his children. It is but right that the Bishops should respect the superiority of the Metropolitan as that of an Elder brother, and have recourse to the loftiness of his dignity, and his good administration; the Patriarch being in the place of a father who has sway over his household” (De Sacerdotio, ch. 33. Cod. Vatic. (Syriac), 101, p. 57 taken from The Tradition of the Syriac Church of Antioch: Concerning the primacy and prerogatives of St. Peter and of his successors the Roman Pontiffs, Cyril Benham Benni, pg. 107)

“And as a Patriarch has authority over his subjects, the Roman (Pontiff) has authority over all Patriarchs, in the same manner as Peter had it over all chiefs of Christianity, and over all Churches; for he is the successor of Christ, placed over His Church, over His flock, over all peoples. If any one refuses to observe these (statutes), let him be anathema” – ( ibid page 96)

 

Where Peter Is…..or is not? – Response to Paul Fahey

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Another article from the “Where Peter Is” blog.

This article, while headed in the right direction, is poorly argued. I understand the author’s intention was to be concise, but one can be concise and still be precise or accurate. Continue reading

Papalotry and Episcopal Synodality: Two Ditches?

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Dr. Douglas Farrow, Professor of Theology and Christian Thought at McGill University, threw down the gauntlet in a recent article for Catholic World Report with a sharp critique of the current regime run by Pope Francis. Though it is clear he put much thought into the content, I have to say that the article is ultimately a bust. The beginning portion decries the growing rise of “Papalotry” that begin to show itself, according to Farrow, with even the famous Dictatus Papae which came out during the Pontificate of Pope St. Gregory VII (1073-1085). I could find you similar claims being made by at least Pope St. Nicholas I (858-867) in his interaction with King Lothair II and his overturning of Episcopal synods in Constantinople in favor of St. Ignatious as rightful occupant of the Patriarchal chair. But I digress. In any case, the current situation in Rome is that the Papacy is beginning to be exalted above its rightful place and appropriate function (see Cardinal Ouellet’s letter to Archbishop Vigano, for one example). Thereafter, in the second half of the article, Farrow decries the beefing up of Episcopal Synods as carrying the ability to exercise magisterial authority, since this will allow the ability of fragmented Synods and particular churches going their own way. With Francis’s desire to decentralize the Papacy, this reduces him to a quasi-neutral referee, and may, in the end, this plan for decentralization is just another form of returning to Gallicanism.

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Pope St. Nicholas the Great (858-867 AD): Letter to Archbishop Hincmar of Reims and the Bishops of the West concerning Photius

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Here is a portion of the letter written by Pope St. Nicholas the Great to the Western bishops in response to a condemnatory letter from Constantinople against the Latins. He writes:
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